Dogs DIE in hot cars


With temperatures soaring, it is vital to take care of our animals.   And this means paying particular attention to the wellbeing of our livestock, wildlife and pets. There are always animals who suffer as a result of human thoughtlessness, arrogance and sheer stupidity, and sadly one scenario is dogs dying in hot cars.      

A car can become as hot as an oven very quickly - even if it doesn't feel that warm.   When it's 22 degrees ouside, the temperature in a car can reach 47 degrees in an hour.  That's unbearable. Dogs can't wind the window down, open the car door or get themselves more water.  They are trapped. Conservatories and caravans or motor homes can equally be death traps.

Despite all the information available, the police and RSPCA still receive thousands of calls about dogs trapped inside cars on a hot day.  It's high time far stiffer penalties were brought to bear on those who cause such suffering to animals. 

What to do if you find a dog in a car on a hot day

Call 999 (the police are sadly used to getting such calls) - the RSPCA may not be able to get to you as quickly and may not have officers available in the area.  In any case, the RSPCA have no powers of entry and would still need police assistance to get the dog out which could take more time.

There is information on the RSPCA's website, with information about what to do if you find a dog in a car on a hot day, including advice for if you think you need to break into the car to get the dog out - this could be a criminal act, so there are tips for how to approach such an action.  

Under the Animal Welfare Act, all owners have a duty of care towards their animals.  This includes preventing suffering, and not exposing them to extremes of temperature.  If a dog is left on a warm day and suffers, the owners could be prosecuted.

You've seen a dog in a car on a hot day.  
What should you do?

Ask the Police
Q:  There is a dog in a vehicle that appears hot and distressed, what should I do?
A: See what the Police say here

What to do when you see a dog in a hot car
It also has info about signs of heatstroke, how to treat it, what to do and more.

Dogs suffer in hot cars

Dogs are different to people - dogs can't cool down in the same way we can.  Leaving a window open or parking in the shade won't help.  Cloud cover can quickly disappear.  Temperatures in air conditioned cars can reach the same temperature as outside within minutes of the air-con being turned off.

Animal Friends insurers have this video you can watch to see how leaving a car affects a dog.  This is a 15 minute video, and Animal Friends say if you don't have time to watch it all, please watch the last five minutes to see what the impact is on animals left in hot cars.  


Signs of heatstroke are...

Excessive panting and profuse salivation are the most obvious signs but also:

  • overly red or purple gums
  • a rapid pulse
  • lack of co-ordination
  • reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing
  • seizures
  • vomiting or diarrhoea
  • in extreme circumstances coma or death.

The RSPCA says that if you see a dog in a hot car showing any signs of heatstroke, dial 999 immediately.  The dog could lose consciousness and experience internal organ failiure. 

If you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke, act fast.   The RSPCA says:

  • Move your pet to a cooler spot straight away.  Then ring your vet for advice immediately.
  • Douse your dog with cool (not cold) water. You could put your dog in a shower and run cool water over him/her, spray your dog with cool water and place him/her in the breeze of a fan. Never cool your dog so much that he/she begins to shiver
  • Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water
  • Continue to douse your dog with cool water until his/her breathing starts to settle and then take him/her straight to the veterinary surgery 

The RSPCA points out that some dogs are more prone to heatstroke, such as the very young and old, dogs with thick heavy coats and those with very short flat faces such as pugs, whilst dogs with certain diseases or on some sort sof medication are also at risk, but frankly, any dog is at risk being shut in a car is at risk of heatstroke and death.   We all have a responsibility to care for our animals and look after them.